Philadelphia Daily News - August 14, 1980
Ruthven Bid Down Drain
By Bill Conlin
CHICAGO – Dick Ruthven had gone nearly two hours between pitches, but no one could blame it on his still-life delivery this time. Ruthven works as slowly as a road maintenance crew and they usually quit when it rains, too, somewhat more voluntarily.
Baseball games have been about as continuous as good stretches of highway around here because, as people can't help but point out, the only thing falling faster and with more regularity than the Cubs these days is the rain.
The Phillies were trying to get out of town yesterday with a three-game sweep of the series with Chicago. It would have been basically the same way they left the last city they visited with one minor difference. They had a chance to do the sweeping, and Ruthven had them halfway to the airport.
HE WAS THROWING baseballs that came in as small as raindrops until the raindrops started coming down as big as baseballs. The first delay interrupted the Cubs' seventh inning and lasted 78 minutes, enough time for a human arm to assume the sensitivity of a turtle's shell. The next one came roughly two minutes after play resumed, and that tells you all you need to know about the quality of sunbathing along the shores of Lake Michigan yesterday.
Still, Ruthven's arm was livlier than the Cubs' bats but, unfortunately for him, the same could be said of the Phillies. Part of that had to do with Rick Reuschel, the rest with schizophrenia, something the Phillies deny the existence of one day and recognize the next.
In the end, Ruthven's stuff was still good enough, his location wasn't, and the Phils settled for two out of three in the series after the Cubs scored in the bottom of the ninth inning to win, 2-1.
"DICK HAD JUST super stuff when he came back from those delays," said Manager Dallas Green. "But the bottom line in a situation where a pitcher has to sit down a while is that it hurts him in maintaining his stuff.
"If that's a normal game out there today, Dick wins it easy. No question. I haven't seen him have that kind of stuff in a long time. It was pleasant to watch.
"I had no qualms about him working out of jams today. What he lost mainly was his location and that didn't happen until the ninth. What can you say? The other guy just pitched a helluva game."
The other guy took the rain delay as a cue to hit the showers. Ruthven didn't and was still attending to this game with an artist's attention until the eighth when Lenny Randle doubled off the ivy in left. Lonnie Smith might have been able to make the catch, but he is still playing the outfield with cautious abandon.
"No way Lonnie makes that catch," argued Green. "The darn thing was halfway up the ivy."
HALFWAY UP THE IVY is still only chest high, but that's neither here nor there. And Lonnie wasn't there. Larry Biittner. batting for Mike Tyson, tripled to deep right-center scoring Randle. But Tim Blackwell. trying to make it from first on the play, was cut down on a perfect relay from Manny Trillo. and Ruthven worked out of further trouble to keep the Phils within the length of Mike Schmidt's bat of the Cubs.
Schmidt has never been one to disappoint the fans who buy tickets in the left field seats at Wrigley. and the last day of his faith-healing here was no different.
Schmidt, who has hit more home runs here this season than a lot of people. including Dave Kingman, parked a Dick Tidrow fastball high over the ivy in left to tie the game in the ninth. It was Schmidt’s 30th homer of the season, sixth at Wrigley. and it gave Ruthven a chance to at least not lose a game in which he'd pitched well enough to win.
"I'VE HAD GAMES where I came back from delays and had nothing." said Ruthven. "This time I felt pretty good. But it still makes it harder to go a full nine when you have that happen. And I think I lost some location because of it."
Ruthven walked Ivan DeJesus. then Bill Buckner singled to left, still with none out. Steve Dillard. trying his best to move both runners over with a sacrifice bunt, accomplished the same thing by working Ruthven for another walk.
Green called in Ron Reed from the bullpen, then called in the rest of the team two pitches later when Jerry Martin hit a fly ball to center to end what was another marathon in Chicago.
"You want to cry "after losing a game like that." said Green, whose state of mind probably improved later last night after both the Expos and Pirates also lost.
"But I'm really happy with the effort and the series in general. It was going to be interesting to see how well we reacted after the weekend in Pittsburgh. And I think we reacted fine.
I HAVE NO QUALMS now about this team. I’ll go back to my old saying that we're a pretty darn good baseball team and we’ll be in it right to the end. They showed me they wanted it, and we really played some tough baseball."
If you can hear Green's voice vibrating from Shea Stadium, where the Phils open a five-game series today, this team's next reaction may lead to a coma. The Mets have already expressed their wishes to be pallbearers at the Phils funeral, having remembered Green's line about them finally playing like themselves in a loss at the Vet awhile back.
"We will have to keep it going in New York," said Garry Maddox. "I don't know if we responded to Dallas' talk or not, but we did play better the last couple days.
"I respect Dallas and he was just showing his frustration. And anybody who might have thought he was striking out at them was probably just reacting to their own frustrations.
"CHAMPIONSHIP CLUBS don't play like we did in Pittsburgh. Regardless of the reasons, you just don't have spells like that, or you at least keep them to a minimum. If we're going to be champs and we're not hitting during a stretch, we have to execute the other phases of the game as well as we know how."
Championship clubs generally do all those things against the Cubs: The Phils did most, primarily with better hitting and great pitching. The last example of that came on a day when Dick Ruthven worked much faster than a road maintenance crew and not quite as fast as the Cubs' grounds crew.
Nobody could blame this marathon on Ruthven's style. Gravity dictates that when you lift up your leg, it will fall back to earth in a much shorter time period than two hours.
PHILUPS: Phils will send Nino Espinosa against the Mets today, with Larry Christenson scheduled to make his first start since coming off the disabled list in tomorrow's game at Shea... The loss dropped Dick Ruthven's record to 10-8... Manny Trillo entered yesterday's game leading the league in hitting with a 327 average but dropped to.323 after going hitless in four at bats... Mike Schmidt finished the three-game series at Chicago with 8 hits. 6 RBI and 3 home runs... The Phils expect Greg Luzinski to come off the disabled list sometime within the next week.
DH Is in On-Deck Circle in NL
Compiled by the Daily News
The issue is much less complicated than negotiations with the players' association and much more traditional that baseball owners having money in their wallets.
The National League owners met yesterday to consider accepting the designated hitter rule now employed by the American League, and when the day ended they'd reached the decision that, well, they weren't quite sure what to do about it.
Officially, the designated hitter rule was voted down. 5-4, with three teams, including the Phillies abstaining from the voting. But the issue will probably only be tabled until the winter meetings when it's expected to be voted on as a one-year proposition.
"I WOULD HAVE favored voting on it for one year." said Phils' General Manager Paul Owens. "We abstained because we disagreed on it. I favored it, Dallas Green was against it and Ruly (Carpenter) was kind of neutraL"
While some owners haven’t decided whether having to watch a pitcher hit is worth tampering with the game's tradition, Green already has.
"I'm not a DH man." Green said yesterday. "I dont think it's good for baseball or the National League, and regardless of what some people seem to think, I don't think it would be good for our club.
"While there might be some advantages to it, the disadvantages far outweigh having it. I was really surprised it didn’t garner more votes than it did. I just hope this puts it on the back burner for awhile."
At least Chub Feeney feels the vote is getting closer.
"The National League continues for the time being as it has been," Feeney said. "We voted four in favor, five against and there were three abstentions. This was closer than it had been in recent years."
A simple majority of 7-5 was needed to pass.
FEENEY SAID the most recent vote was 10-2 against, and John Claiborne of St. Louis said, "Every six months I'll put it on the agenda" until it gets passed.
It was learned that the four clubs voting in favor of adopting the rule that permits an expert batsman to hit for weak-hitting pitchers were Atlanta, New York, St. Louis and San Diego. Those voting against were Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal and Cincinnati, while the three clubs that abstained were the Phils, Houston and Pittsburgh.
In its meeting, the American League produced nothing of consequence but said it hopes to have its committee on three-divisional play produce something, possibly as early as 1982. The league has had an ongoing committee exploring the realignment of the league along geographical lines to cut travel costs and produce local rivalries.
The NL also passed a rule to treat weather-halted tie games as suspended games, stopping play at 12:45 a.m. and resuming the contest from that point at a mutually-agreed upon later date.
There were six winners yesterday in the eighth inning of the Daily News Home Run Payoff. Jack Kelly of Springfield and Sharon Fields, MJ. Katz, Eva Gomel, Archie Giove, and Wm. Schroeder, all of Philadelphia, each won four tickets to a future Phillies game.
The Daily News has paid out $15,060 so far this season.
Today's entry coupon appears on this page.